The Carolina Hurricanes faced the Nashville Predators at PNC Arena Friday night and they barely held on. Fortunately, they were able to grab the 5-3 win due to depth scoring and two goals from Andrei Svechnikov that sealed the deal.
Spreading the wealth
One of the biggest strengths of this Canes team is its depth. Not only are the forward lines constantly switching around due to the varying talent and flexibility, but blueliners have been a real key on the offensive end of the ice as well.
Tonight, this depth was illustrated by Brady Skjei, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jaccob Slavin all being able to light the lamp.
It’s not too frequently of late that fans can enjoy an early lead and great play from the getgo, but last night was somewhat of an outlier. The Canes ended the first period with a 1-0 lead, thanks to blueliner Brady Skjei who was able to net a highlight reel-esque goal early in the game.
“It’s the skating that got him that goal,” said Rod Brind’Amour. “He got down the wall and made a nice little move. He’s been good all year. It’s nice for us to see him score, but it’s not surprising.”
It didn’t end there, as Kotkaniemi reached double-digit scoring this season, extending the Canes lead to 2-0 early in the second period. And with just one second remaining in the period, Slavin was able to net the second goal of the period, giving the Canes the 3-1 lead going into the final 20 minutes.
With these two goals, Carolina leads the league with 0.89 goals per game from defenseman in 2022.
The stars of the show had their moments, but the talent “beneath” them (as far as the lineup goes) tends to go unnoticed outside of Carolina fans. Last night, the team showed up and showed out, utilizing all of their key players.
Andrei Svechnikov’s goal count is now higher than his age, as he scored his 21st and 22st goals of the season off of a Teuvo Teravainen feed and an empty netter. He now leads the team in goals scored, as he passed Sebastian Aho (21) last night.
“He’s getting the results,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s had stretches where he’s played this well, but the puck wasn’t going in. But now, the puck seems to be going in a little more for him.”
He received First Star honors after the game, due to the two goals and assist that he tallied in the win, and has now earned 21 points in his last 14 games. He continues to prove why he is one of the most dominant young players in the league.
“We all know what he’s capable of and he’s a great player,” Necas said. “He’s showing that he’s got everything you need to be a star player in the league.”
They killed it
The power play went 2-4 (50%) last night, which is extremely impressive, and the special teams were the shining stars of the night. As we’ve talked about over and over again, the Canes have one of the best kills in the league, and last night reinforced that truth as well.
In 48 games played, the Canes have the highest PK percentage at 89.9%. This is a ridiculous number that would be record-breaking if maintained (the current salary cap era record is 89.6%, held by the 2011-12 Devils).
This game was plagued by injuries— first Vincent Trocheck, then Martin Necas. Luckily, the latter returned to the bench shortly after heading off the ice, but the former was ruled out with an upper-body injury for the remainder of the game.
“We’re still waiting to see if he’s going to be out for a little while or not,” Brind’Amour said.
Trocheck tallied an assist on the first goal of the game and has been a consistent, offensive threat for Carolina throughout the season.
Almost lost it
Within the last six minutes of the game, Frederik Andersen and the Canes allowed two quick goals to get the Predators within a goal of the Canes. They came this close to giving up a 4-1 lead.
“They got one, and then the one where we had it on our stick and just put it right to them, and boom,” Brind’Amour said. “All of a sudden you’re back in the game.”
Luckily, Svechnikov and the team as a whole came to the rescue and were able to secure the win with an empty netter, but the two late goals allowed are definitely something to dig into.
“I think there’s a little bit of unlucky puck luck for us… It’s been one of our strengths in the past,” Skjei said. “We’ve been good 6-on-5 and good at closing out games.
The Canes (33-11-4) take on the Pittsburgh Penguins (31-12-8) at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday at 1pm ET. This is the first of two games on the road in Pennsylvania, later facing the Philadelphia Flyers.
Svechnikov is on a roll, with four goals in his last five games, so I’d keep an eye on that scoring streak. Otherwise, the goaltending matchup is key. With Andersen’s start last night and just one day off, we’ll have to see if it’s him or Raanta in net for the Pittsburgh game.